Paganistan: Notes from the Secret Commonwealth

In Which One Midwest Man-in-Black Confers, Converses & Otherwise Hob-Nobs with his Fellow Hob-Men (& -Women) Concerning the Sundry Ways of the Famed but Ill-Starred Tribe of Witches.

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Steven Posch

Steven Posch

Poet, scholar and storyteller Steven Posch was raised in the hardwood forests of western Pennsylvania by white-tailed deer. (That's the story, anyway.) He emigrated to Paganistan in 1979 and by sheer dint of personality has become one of Lake Country's foremost men-in-black. He is current keeper of the Minnesota Ooser.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Taking Omens

The word inauguration originally referred not to the ceremonial transfer of power but to the act of divination that preceded it.

It makes sense that the state, before embarking on a major endeavor such as a war or a change of government, should consult the will of the gods on the matter. The augurs (diviners) take the auguries (omens) to see what the future will bring.

I haven't heard yet what omens the US College of Augurs got today. (Their headquarters is down on the Mall someplace, I think; I'm pretty sure I walked past it a few years ago.) No doubt tomorrow it will be all over the web.

(State augur. Now there's a job I wouldn't mind having. I hear the benefits are great.)

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Hail to the Chief?

Abuser-in-chief

Bully-in-chief

Complainer-in-Chief

Despot-in-chief

Ego-in-chief

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • John Senesac
    John Senesac says #
    Whats wrong is people like you!We need to heal the divide in this country,and not whine about it.We are one people and we need to
  • Dragon Dancer
    Dragon Dancer says #
    HEAR FUCKING HEAR. May his reign be as short as humanly - hell, as divinely - possible. And may we manage to combat his VP who is

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Are the Gods Archetypes?

If I could zap one word from the pagan vocabulary, it would be “archetype.”

Don't ask me what it means. When I press people for a definition, they're mostly hard-put to provide one. So far as I can tell, archetypes seem to be something like Platonic Ideas.

If so, what does it mean to say that the gods are archetypes?

Me, I'm an Old Style Pagan. I worship (to name only some) the Sun, the Moon, the Storm, Earth, Sea, the Winds. Whatever it is that They may be (when asked “What is a god?” the poet Simonides replied, “I find that the more I think about the question, the more opaque it becomes”), it doesn't seem to me to be in any way meaningful to say that they're archetypes.

Whatever that may be.

Craft historian Michael Howard has contended that the reductionist tendency to regard the gods as archetypes—essentially, as parts of ourselves—has actually stood in the way of entering into any sort of real relationship with Them.

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  • Anne Forrester
    Anne Forrester says #
    I also love this posting and agree with everything that Shiri says above. I was going to write a lengthy comment until I read her
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Thanks for your generous words, Shiri; I'm in full agreement with your observations. I continue to be astounded by the simultaneou
  • Shirl Sazynski
    Shirl Sazynski says #
    Thanks for this. I've been finding a lot resonating in your microposts about the profundity of basics and the ancestors. Modern pa

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Candlemas Carol

At first glance, Steve Ashley's Candlemas Carol might seem something of a downer.

Don't be fooled.

On Candlemas beware, old man,

the wind, gale, and the storm;

and if you think that Winter's dead,

it's barely being born.

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Her Hidden Children

If some Da'ish thug put a gun to your temple and hissed in your ear, Convert or die: what would you do?

Pagans have faced this choice ever since non-pagan religions gained political power. In our own day, alas, some pagans still face this hideous choice.

Which is better, to be true and die, or to hide and live?

The martyrs get all the hero-tales, it's true.

And indeed, I praise the sacrifice of those who kept (and keep) faith at the cost of their lives.

But ever, they say, the Craft must survive.

So I also praise the sacrifice of those who wrap themselves in the cloak of the conqueror, but keep the Old Ways in secret.

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  • Aline "Macha" O'Brien
    Aline "Macha" O'Brien says #
    This is wonderful! So important to remember. I'm gonna link it to Macha's FB page.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
What is the Symbol of Earth?

In Baltic lore, each of the Old Gods has his or her own sign.

For the Sun, it's the Sun Wheel. For the Moon, the Crescent.

Fire is the Fire Cross, the swastika, Thunder, the Thunder Cross, or compound swastika.

The Winds, since there are four of them, have the Cross, Heaven the Mountain. (How else would you draw a picture of the sky?)

But what about Earth?

My teacher, Tony Kelly, of the Pagan Movement in Britain and Ireland, used to say, “If we know anything at all about Earth, we know that she's Mother.”

At the time, as a good, doctrinaire second wave feminist, I found this statement reductionist and objectionable.

Since then, I've changed my mind.

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  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    I'm no historian of feminism and certainly can't speak for second wave feminism generally, but (in effect) yes. The feeling was th
  • Taffy Dugan
    Taffy Dugan says #
    Why would thinking of the Earth as a Mother be reductionist and objectionable? Was the 2nd wave of feminism putting down mothers?

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Do Gods Have Halos?

It's something of a problem in contemporary pagan iconography.

Do gods have halos?

Halo: a disk of light surrounding the head, in art the conventional indicator of holiness. (In Greek, halo means “threshing floor”; threshing floors were clean, shining disks of ground.)

To Western eyes, halos may have something of a Christian look to them. For some, that's a problem.

But look East and you'll see that buddhas wear halos too, and so do Hindu gods.

In fact, there was a time when use of the halo was forbidden to Christian artists. Sorry, Crispus, halos are for pagans.

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